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Limestone monoliths mark new Shropshire long barrow

Three limestone monoliths were erected in the grounds of Soulton Hall, Shropshire, on September 26. The region’s first long barrow in five thousand years will be built on the site next year. The stones mark a path to the location. 

The monoliths, which each weigh a couple of tonnes, stand approximately 12 feet high and six feet wide. They are the first step in the building of the Soulton Long Barrow by Sacred Stones Ltd and the Ashton family.

The Soulton Long Barrow was granted planning permission earlier this month and will be made entirely by hand using natural limestone, lime mortar and traditional techniques. Inspired by those built by prehistoric people, it will house cremation ashes and will provide an alternative venue for funerals and commemorative experiences.

It is hoped the barrow will act as a focal point for community to celebrate lifeThe long barrow will also provide a unique backdrop for educational and creative events.

The team of stonemasons behind the design and build at Soulton, pride themselves on being the first to have built these modern interpretations for many thousands of years. Their first (private commission) was at All Cannings, Wiltshire, the second (as Sacred Stones Limited) at Hail Weston in Cambridgeshire.

There to witness the placing of the stones was managing director of Sacred Stones, Toby Angel: “These beautiful standing stones are a precursor to what will be an historic build; the first long barrow in the region for 5,000 years.   

“As well as marking the path to the barrow, these monoliths are our statement of intent and commitment to creating a natural, secular barrow in a rural setting where families can come with no time limitations and celebrate life.”

A few local people have already reserved a space for their ashes, including local councillor, Pauline Dee. She says: “When Tim Ashton first approached me about the proposed barrow at Soulton, it instantly struck a chord with me and I thought what a great idea it was. I love Wem and the countryside round it and would so much like for this to be my final resting place. The barrow appeals to me as a place of peace, beautifully constructed by craftsmen in a very natural setting.

“I have spoken to other people about the barrow site and the feedback I have received has been very positive. I think it is a good idea to let your family know what you want and spare them the worry at a sad time.”

Tim Ashton of Soulton Hall adds: “This is a special day for my family, and the community we serve. It’s hugely exciting to be one of the first farmers to build a long barrow in modern times.

“My family have been stewards of this land for a long time; our passionate connection with Soulton is shared by the many people who live and work around us, and by the many that visit each year.  By committing to the barrow, we amplify the honour it is to engage with the land, and I passionately believe this important structure will serve the community for generations to come.”

The Good Funeral Guide, which this month awarded Sacred Stones a Good Funeral Award for its Willow Row Barrow in Cambridgeshire, says: “Willow Row is a secular place that is sacred. People of every faith and none are equally welcome here. It is an ancient design built by modern men. It has been created by people who are ethical, talented and passionate, and is cared for by custodians who have a deep rooted connection with the land and the past, and a vision for a better future.”

The standing stones are accessible to the public to view from the 27 September. To follow the Soulton build or reserve a niche (the space in which urns are placed) visit www.sacredstones.co.uk or follow them on Facebook (Sacred Stones Ltd) and Twitter @SacredStonesLtd.  

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